Heightened security makes for successful event at American Legion Post 107
By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Police say last week’s carnival at J.C. Price American Legion Post 107, where officials decided more security may be necessary, was a success.
A 2008 citizen complaint prompted an investigation and the Salisbury City Council to approve increased security during the event, which surrounds the Memorial Day holiday.
A formal security plan was submitted to council before the week’s events even took place.
J.C. Price Post officials and the Salisbury Police came up with security guidelines. In the past, the Legion Post hired two security officers to supplement the four the carnival operators provided.
“You can’t police an event of that magnitude with just a hand full of officers,” said Salisbury Police Deputy Chief Steve Whitley.
Whitley said Monday through Sunday the department used 26 officers.
“The bulk of the officers worked Wednesday night through Saturday night,” he said.
This year, the sale of alcohol was contained to one building and no alcohol was permitted to leave the premises.
“We worked hard to take as much risk out of this as we could. The event was very successful for the hut and for us,” Whitley said.
Although things ran smoothly, there were a few incidents that arose but were quickly diffused.
Because of the increased police presence, officers were able to intercept a few problems, Whitley said.
Police arrested a Salisbury man who attended the carnival with a juvenile targeting a rival gang member.
“He told police he was after a rival gang member,” Whitley said.
Andre Heaggins, 23, was charged with misdemeanor carrying a concealed weapon and felony possession of crack cocaine. The incident occurred about 11:30 p.m. Friday.
“There was some obvious gang overtones,” Whitley said.
Officers found the intended victim and removed him from the property.
In an effort to thwart any possible gang activity, police made everyone who was “displaying their colors” to remove them. Anyone with a colored bandanna that could be construed as gang affiliation was asked to remove the article.
“There was no display of colors at all,” he said.
Saturday afternoon, Whitley said he received information that indicated a couple of juveniles were planning to rob a food vendor. Officers went to each vendor to alert them of the robbery attempt.
On Saturday at 8 p.m. one of the two juvenile’s arrived at the carnival.
“We intercepted him. He had no weapons. We removed him from the property before a robbery occurred,” Whitley said.
He said his biggest concern was that there were a lot of people in attendance and law enforcement did not want anything to happen.
“We had people strategically positioned, most of those who worked were on the SWAT team, the gang and drug guys,” he said.
A minor incident occurred when two women fought in the women’s bathroom. Officers were able to control the situation.
Most of the people seemed glad the police were there providing security, he said.
Many more were appreciative of the command post that was set up. There were a few lost children who were reunited with family through the portable command post.
The Salisbury Fire Department provided the mobile command unit. The public works department and rescue squad aided with workers including EMTs and portable lights in the parking lot.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” Whitley said.
He believed the lights were a huge crime deterrent.
Post Commander Mae Carroll said with the exception of the rain the first few nights, she thought this year’s event was “excellent.”
She said every day at 6 p.m. there was a briefing with the police and Legion staff.
Even the carnival manager was appreciative of the increased police force, Carroll said.
“Any suspicious behaviors were quickly addressed and taken care of by police in a professional and expedient manner,” she said.
Carnival-goers expressed their appreciation for a visible police force and being able to have a good time while not worrying about anything happening, she said.
Whitley said officers working at the event estimate the crowd Friday at 1,500 people and Saturday at more than 2,000 people.